Sunday, May 13, 2007

Poland has no friends

That’s why it won’t ever win the Eurovision Song Contest.

100 million Europeans watched agog last night at the annual festival of ketch, awful music and strange dance moves held in Helsinki this year.

For those of you outside the continent, the Eurovision Song Contest has been staged every year by the European Broadcasting Union since 1956.

Winners are chosen by viewers sending in text messages.

The event was won by Serbia, the very first time it has entered the competition. Poland didn’t even make the final this year. The UK came joint second to last and Ireland came rock bottom.

The Ukraine came second and gained the most votes from Polish voters. The girlfriend and I, plus dog, picked Ukraine – the entry being sung by an ageing drag queen (photo). Well, why not? It’s all very Eurovision.

Serious studies have been done on the contest (probably by ‘cultural studies’ lecturers with nothing better to do) on how people make voting decisions. BBC reports:

Dr Alan Howard, from Reading University's school of human sciences, has surveyed 1,000 fans of the contest on how they would cast their votes.
He says the results undermine the belief voting is influenced by the countries' traditional loyalties.
Only 24% of fans agreed tactical voting was reducing the contest to a farce.
The 12-month online survey received 1,126 responses from fans in 51 countries.
A total of 57% said a good performance on the night would make them vote for an act but only 7% said they would vote tactically.
Thirty-three per cent also said lyrics would have an influence while 16% said the attractivneness of singers might sway them.
Dr Howard said: "For some time now, the Eurovision Song Contest has gained a reputation as a light entertainment show rather than an important competition.

What are they teaching kids at uni these days? ‘…the results undermine the belief voting is influenced by the countries' traditional loyalties..’ Ha, bloody ha.

The winners and losers are not chosen on the merit of their often sparse musical talents. Sorry Dr Howard, but it is all about nationalisms and politics.

The competition has expanded in recent years and now includes many eastern European countries. The viewers of these ex-communist countries all vote for each other, with predictable results. Look at the top ten countries this year:

Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Belarus, Greece, Armenia, Hungary and Moldova.

The Balkans and eastern Europe are completely dominating the contest now. But it’s always been the same, even before they turned up. Cyprus always votes for Grease and Turkey. Scandinavia always votes Scandinavia. Israel has recently started to vote for Russia, due to the fact, no doubt, of the new Jewish Russian migration there.

Poland always votes for Ukraine.

And so it goes, year after year. Unfortunately, even with the eastern European in-built bias, nobody seems to want to vote for poor old Poland. Does nobody love the Poles?

Poland didn’t even manage to get out of the semi-final, held on Friday this year. The only time Poland did well was the first time it entered the competition in 1994, when Polish diva Edyta Gorniak sung ‘That’s not me’ and came in second – probably as a result of a sympathy vote.

All the western European countries are equally isolated – with nobody voting for France, UK, even Ireland, which used to win the competition nearly every year during the 1990s.

I would do what Italy did years ago – don’t even bother sending in an entry.


michael farris said...

Eurovision is a one-of-a-kind freak culture event, a trainwreck of bad taste and bad music and a triumph of connections over talent and regionalism over unification ... and I love it dearly (though I've never actually voted and don't intend to).

It's not widely known, but Cyprus _not_ awarding 12 points to Greece is the fourth sign of the apocalypse...

My new favorite moment every year now is the pained expression of Maciej Orłoś as he announces the results of Polish voting, which he is clearly appalled by, comedy gold.

Poland's second best finish was the first time Ich Troje appeared, with a very respectable top ten finish (somewhere around 7th?).

Poland didn't get out of qualifying this year because the song and performance was nothing special (the song sounded like it was cribbed from Cristina Aguilera and the performance was on the level b-list disco polo).

National and regional loyalties aside, more often than not the live audience reaction is a clue* The live audience in Finland was as quiet and still as a bunch of rocks during Poland's performance and tore off the roof for Serbia. I knew then that Poland wouldn't progress and I had a hunch that Serbia would win (songs from qualifying often do well because the tv audience is more familiar with them).

And as these things go, the winning song this year was actually okay. Not a strong melody but a great committed performance by a visually intriguing performer set off by minimalist presentation (not a eurovision hallmark). And it was nice to hear someone singing in their first language rather than international crap english.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

International crap English...?

My favourite is from the Dutch entry, 1975. It\s called Ding a dong...

When you feelin' alright, everything is up-tight
Try to sing a song that goes ding ding-a-dong
There will be no sorrow when you sing tomorrow
And you walk along with your ding-dang-dong

Ding-a-dong every hour, when you pick a flower
Even when your lover is gone, gone, gone
Ding-a-dong, listen to it, maybe it's a big hit
Even when your lover is gone, gone, gone
Sing ding-ding-dong

They don;t make em like that anymore...

beatroot said...

It won the contest, by the way...

Anonymous said...

Polish diva Edyta Gorniak sung ‘That’s not me’ and came in second – probably as a result of a sympathy vote.

Could also because "That's not me" is actually a pretty decent song in itself. Especially compared to what is commonly seen on Eurovision.

All the western European countries are equally isolated

The problem is that the voting system makes absolutely no sense -- i.e. the vote of Malta has the same weight as that of Russia. It results in the Balkans comprising of many small and similarly voting countries heavily skewing the results.

(But, when Scotland secedes from UK, the UK's chance of winning will increase!)

I also believe that the vote is mainly political, but it could also be simply that people in similar countries have similar musical tastes.

Anyway, this contest should have been put to rest after the last year...

michael farris said...

As spokesman for the Ministry of Pedantic Twittery, I would like to remind our audience that while "To nie ja" might be translated as "That wasn't me", the English-langauge version of the song was called "Once in a lifetime".

beatroot said...

Once in a lifetime is its English title, indeed. And then she sang the POlish National anthem like she thought she was Witney Huston. Oh, dear...

The problem is that the voting system makes absolutely no sense --

I bet Kaczki think that. They see it as the same conspiracy as the EU Treaty voting system. I reckon that the POlish government is formulating, as we speak, a new 'slimmed down' Eurovision Song Contest, with proper weighting for large population countries...oh, and a mention of Christianity in the opening credits.

Anonymous said...

America´s most wanted:

Anonymous said...

Other America's Most Wanted: Ted Kaczynski, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Kuklinski...

Frank Partisan said...
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Anonymous said...

Poland didn't win because the lead singer wasn't even Polish! Aren't there any male Polish singers in Poland?

Frank Partisan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
news said...

hi beatroot, my fist post. You haven't mentioned that voting is now dictated to some extent by international migration. Ireland voted for Lithuania, Germany for Turkey (again), Estonia for Russia, Turkey for Armenia (which means there are lots more Armenians in Turkey than Ankara says). spain voted for Ukraine and Romanians because there are thousans of Ukranians and Romanians in Spain.

If the British took Eurovision seriously then FRance and Spain might give the UK some points.

Howwever, as you say, the problem of Poland undermines my theory. Did Poles in the UK and Ireland vote for Poland in the first round. We don't know. If they did, it wasn't enough.

But yes, Poland, like Hungary, historically has few firends in Europe, and is seen as the imperial power by its neighbours (Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia).

It of course hells to have a decent song.

Anonymous said...

And so it goes, year after year. Unfortunately, even with the eastern European in-built bias, nobody seems to want to vote for poor old Poland. Does nobody love the Poles?

Of course we do:-)

Nobody liked the English entry - me included it was very tacky!!


beatroot said...

The UK entry was, as usual, an abomination and an insult to our fine tradition of popular music. The Brits are second only to the US for contemporary music (we used to be as good as them) and all we can produce is an in flight safety video. Rrrrrrubbish. It's all Blair's fault, of course.

michael farris said...

Abomination is a strong word, the British entry was one of the few with a recognisable hook. I even didn't hate the cheesy presentation which reminded me of a variety show from the 1960's.

And it was almost in good taste, at least compared with the Armenian guy with the bleeding chest, the freaky operatic vocalising goth chick from Slovenia or the Latvian zombie tenors. But the UK doesn't have many friends or voting expats, at least they weren't stuck with null points like a few years ago.

I think that expat Poles are just too cheap to vote (and anytime anything in Poland can be explained by inherent miserliness that's the explanation I tend to go for first).

Anonymous said...

Cheap? Inherently miserly?

Strange, sad, and silly.

Agnes said...

It's also the voting system: a country has a limited number of votes. What was Yugoslavia once, became Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, etc: with Serbs in all, i.r. x number of Serbs in X+y countries means more votes than X Serbs in one or two countries. (The rest had mostly the immigration to vote, that in the case of Romania, ex Yugoslavia, Ussr is a very high number again, and again in several countries.) Let alone that the girl seemed good, and her song...trendy or how to put it. Ballads and nations, the new fashion.

sonia said...

Are you talking about music or electoral politics ?

Songs win because of the quality of music, not political chauvinism. Traditionally, the Balkans have the largest Gypsy population in Europe and therefore the best music in Europe. (Like US, the larger the black population, the better the music - no good music in lily-white Utah or Vermont).

White men can't jump, gadjos can't sing. If Poland wants to win song contest, they should encourage more Gypsies to come to Poland... like Kansas City became the capital of jazz in the 1930's by inviting blacks from New Orleans to come...

Agnes said...

Yes, Sonia, even music can be politics (art tends to become so)- so even this festival, and it had a very idiotic system of voting the favorites. AS for the Romas, Eastern Europe is the last place they should lust for.

beatroot said...

Eurovision is nothing to do with music.

And as for Gypsies wanting to come to Poland? Most, like in Czech, moved out to Sweden years ago.

michael farris said...

Isn't Edyta Gorniak part gypsy?

Anonymous said...

no good music in lily-white Utah or Vermont

Bluegrass and folk. Different strokes for different folks.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

'Eurovision is nothing to do with music'

Your right there mate :-)

Over the years - it has become along standing national joke:-(

All about voting and siding with the neighbours

But in the *BIG* scheme of things?

Is it important?

Issie -

beatroot said...

Isn't Edyta Gorniak part gypsy?

Exactly. She was claiming that last year, I think. This would support Sonia's theory. But Sonia is wrong on the general thrust of 'her' point. It's the mix of black with white (jazz, soul, gospel are originated after slaves heard protestant church song, liked them but sang them with a bit of swing) that is crucial to great music. It's when cultures collide and make new cultures that innovation occurs.